Advances in HIV treatment allow individuals with HIV to live a healthy and uncomplicated live. In this sense, viral suppression significantly reduces the chances of HIV transmission, but does not eliminate them completely. This has led to misinterpretations and doubts as to whether people should or not use condoms when an individual with HIV has an undetectable viral load.
A study concluded that antiretroviral therapy reduces by 96% the chances of HIV transmission. This figures make visible the need of our Governments to provide universal access to treatment.
On the other hand, a study involving both heterosexuals and homosexuals couples deduces that viral suppression would increase at least 95% of probability of non-transmission of HIV. However, some couples acquired STIs, including syphilis and gonorrhea, for ignoring the use of condoms. It is not only a matter of protection against HIV, but a matter of protection during sexual intercourse in order to prevent HIV re-infection, syphilis, gonorrhea, among others, or to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
It is important to point out that it is a clinical study; that means that its results should be taken with some restraint.
“We must continue recommending preventive policy with consistent use of condom, since no one can ensure that viral loads are permanently undetectable (…)” said Carlos Falistocco, National Director of the program of HIV in Argentina.
Perhaps a large part of people with HIV is unaware that viral load is not stable during antiretroviral therapy, and it is important to use condoms during sex to reduce the risk of transmission of any sexually transmitted infection (STI).
People with HIV have the right to silent their HIV status if they wish; however, condom use responsibility is shared.
Finally, adherence to treatment or an undetectable viral load do not eliminates the risk of HIV transmission, and they do not prevent re-infection or other STI co-infections. Scientific evidence should be evaluated from a comprehensive perspective, considering all the factors that come into play.